July 17, 2015
Live from the Living Room, July 8
Well, sort of: we actually were in the “Garden Room” but close enough & no one seemed to mind. Our straight-friendly host, Don Levy, introduced the featured poet, East Nassau’s (& America’s) own, Bernadette Mayer.
Bernadette began with an nod to the classics, Catullus’ poem #42 (or XLII), a great rant about a stolen notebook, then on to 5 poems from the recent Benevolent Bird Press chapbook, All Fall Down; one that she read, “Butterfly of Love,” she said that she didn’t like the title, but its supple description of a vagina reminds me of Eileen Myles’ sexy titled “Sappho’s Boat.” Then on to some sonnets from the rare 1989 Sonnets (Tender Buttons Books). She ended with a long string of Epigrams from Scarlet Tanager (New Directions). A nice variety of new & older work, as if Viking published a “Portable Bernadette Mayer.”
I started the open mic trying out a brand-new poem for my son Jack’s up-coming wedding, “For Jack & Haley/Haley & Jack” & was pleased with the good response. Kim Henry read 2-parts of an auto-biographical family memoir, "Kimberly Parts 1 & 2." Samson Dikeman followed also with a childhood memoir on the theme of why he writes “I Told You 14 Times There Is Nothing in the Drawer.” Adam Tedesco was the first poet of the night to reference whether I had heard the poem they were about to read; I don’t recall hearing before his 1st poem, a series of questions, but was pleased to hear once again “Clouds.” Bob Sharkey’s 1st piece “Coming Back” was a string of travel images, followed by a film-noir police interrogation “Subject 56-10.” Sylvia Barnard also referenced the fact that I had heard both of her poems previously, but no matter, they are good enough to hear again, “Siobhan in Washington Park Age 46” & “Anti-4th of July Poem” (based on an email from a Canadian friend). Chad Lovejoy read from his phone “Leachate #10” from a series based on texts about Albany’s Pine Bush preserve.
Miriam Axel-Lute began with a sexy piece on re-building “Rebound,” then referenced me hearing before her poem about never taking “no” for an answer “Syro-Phoenician Woman” (based on Matthew 15:21-28). Billy Stanley read from his notebook “Whistling in the Rushes” playing on the old controversy between Whistler & Ruskin, then a piece about what what to write, what to think “Bernadette at 3:30 in the AM.” Our host, Don Levy, ended the night with 2 poems, the high school memoir “G.B.” then the wonderful poem for his Dad who had sports-aspirations for his uninterested son, “Jock” (who knew that Don was named for the great Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale?).Such nights of poetry continue each 2nd Wednesday of the month, 7:30PM, at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, on Hudson Ave., in Albany, NY — a local or regional poet followed by an open mic for the community, for a modest donation.